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Making an employment tribunal claim

This advice applies to England

You might want to make a claim to an employment tribunal if both the following apply:

  • you've got a problem at work that you can't sort out

  • you think your employer has done something that’s against the law

Using early conciliation before you make your claim

You can’t usually make a tribunal claim without going through ‘early conciliation’ first. 

Early conciliation is when an organisation called Acas tries to help you reach an agreement with your employer. Acas is a government-funded body whose job is to help with workplace disputes.

You must start early conciliation by a deadline. This is usually 3 months minus 1 day from the date of the event or treatment you’re complaining about.

When you’ve finished early conciliation, Acas will send you an early conciliation certificate. The certificate has a number on it - you must put that number on your claim form. You’ll then have at least a month to make your tribunal claim.

You can read more about using early conciliation.

Starting your claim

To start your claim you can either:

The claim form is also called an ‘ET1 form’. 

If you know other people have made a claim against the same employer based on the same circumstances, you can put their names on your form. This means the tribunal can link all the claims and deal with them together. The other people’s claims don’t have to be exactly the same as yours.

If a number of you want to make a claim

This is called a ‘multiple claim’. You could be part of a multiple claim if, for example, a number of you have been made redundant by the same employer in the same circumstances. 

In a multiple claim, only one of you needs to complete a claim form. They should add the names and addresses of the other people who also want to make a claim. There’s a different form for multiple claims. You can find the multiple claims form on GOV.UK.

Filling in the claim form

This is the first document the tribunal will read, so make sure you:

  • clearly explain what your complaint is about 

  • write about events in the same order they happened

  • number your paragraphs - this will make it easier to find and refer to specific parts of your complaint  

  • mention every key event you are complaining about - it might be hard to add anything you’ve missed out

  • try to avoid going into a lot of detail about everything that happened

  • if you’re filling in the form by hand, write clearly 

There’s official guidance on how to fill in the form on GOV.UK. You should look at that together with our advice.  

There are 15 questions on the form. The question numbers are those on the paper form. They don’t appear on the online form but will be on the copy you save or print. 

Question 1 - your details

The tribunal will send a copy of your claim form to your employer and anyone else you’re making your claim against. This means they’ll find out where you live. If you don’t want them to know that, you can ask the tribunal to blank out your address on the form. For example, you might want to do this if your claim is for sexual harassment. 

You can ask the tribunal to blank out your address in the additional information box on the form. 

Question 2 - respondent’s details

The respondent is the person, organisation or company you’re making your claim against. 

You should make sure the name and details you put here are the same as on the early conciliation certificate you got from Acas. 

You can find your employer’s name on documents like pay slips, your contract or your P60 or P45. 

If you’re not sure what the full name of the company is, you can:

If your company has been taken over by another one, you should name both companies. 

If the respondent uses a trading name

You should put their name and trading name - for example ‘John Smith trading as the Emergency Plumber’.

If the respondent is a charity

You should name the charity if it is a:

  • company limited by guarantee

  • charitable company

  • charitable incorporated organisation

You can check the charity register on GOV.UK or the charity’s website to find out if it is one of those. 

If the charity is a charitable trust or an unincorporated charity, you should name the individual trustees. You can find their names on the charity register on GOV.UK

If the respondent is a local authority school

You should name the members of the board of governors of the school, not the local authority.

If the respondent is a partnership

You should name the partnership - your claim will be against all the current partners.

You might be able to make a claim against more than one organisation or individual. For example, if you’re an agency worker who’s been discriminated against, you could name the company where you were placed and the agency that placed you there.

You can’t make a claim against individual managers or colleagues - unless you’re making a discrimination claim. 

If you’re making a discrimination claim, you can make it against:

  • your employer

  • the person or people who discriminated against you

  • your employer and the people who discriminated against you 

You might want to talk to an adviser to decide who you should name. 

If the respondent is bankrupt or in administration, you should talk to an adviser.

Question 5 - employment details

Make sure the dates of your employment are correct. You can only make some claims if you’ve been employed for a certain length of time. You can find out more about checking if you’ve worked for long enough to make a claim

You also have to make your claim within a certain time of the event or treatment you’re complaining about.

If your employer has been taken over by another one, you should give the date you started working for your original employer as the date your employment started.

If you didn’t have an official job title, say that and give a brief description of what you did. 

Question 6 - earnings and benefits

If your earnings varied from week to week, you should work out the average from your last 12 weeks of employment. You can get details of your pay from recent itemised pay statements.

You should include all the pay you receive. Don’t forget things like pension contributions, accommodation, medical insurance or a company car. These things could affect how much compensation you might get. Don’t delay your claim to get those details yet - you can add them later.

Question 7 - if your employment with the respondent has ended, what has happened since?

If you got a new job, the guidance says to say if it’s temporary but there’s nowhere to say so in this section. You can put that in Question 9 - what do you want if your claim is successful or Question 15 - additional information. 

Question 8 - type and details of claim

You should describe briefly what happened. You don’t need to provide any evidence with your claim form. You need to say here what legal right you’re claiming. 

If you’re owed wages

You should explain: 

  • how much you think you should have been paid

  • when you should have been paid 

  • if you were paid something, what you were actually paid

If you know why your employer didn’t pay you in full, explain why you disagree with them.

You can find out more about what you can do if your employer has taken money from your wages

Example

On 27 August 2021, I was paid £150 in wages. I should have been paid £400. My employer said I’d damaged a laptop. He also said my contract allows him to take money out of my wages if I damage company property. I don’t think this is right because the contract I signed when I started work says nothing about this. I also didn’t cause the damage.  

If you’re owed holiday pay when you leave work 

You should explain: 

  • when your holiday year begins and ends 

  • how much holiday you’re entitled to a year

  • how much holiday you had built up when you left

  • how much holiday you’d taken 

  • if you were paid anything when you left

If your employer has explained why they haven’t paid you, explain why you disagree with them.

You can check how much holiday pay you should get.

Example

My employer’s holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December. I’m entitled to 28 days of holiday a year. My last day of work was 30 June, so I had built up 14 days when I left. I had taken 8 days so I should have 6 days’ holiday left. My employer says I’m not entitled to holiday because I was off sick from March but I think this is wrong. 

If you think you weren’t paid the right amount of holiday pay 

You should explain:

  • what holiday you took 

  • how much you were paid for it

  • when you were paid or should have been paid for it

  • how much you think you should have been paid and why

If you’re claiming for more than one period of holiday, explain when they were and what you’re owed for each period.

You can check how much holiday pay you should get.

Example

When I take holiday my employer pays my basic weekly pay, which is £500 a week. They won’t include overtime even though I regularly earn between £80 and £150 a week in overtime.  I don’t think this is right. I think my holiday pay should include my overtime.

I took 2 weeks holiday in August and was paid £1,000 for those weeks on 31 August. In the 12 weeks before that, I earned an average of £100 a week in overtime so I think I am owed £200. 

If you haven’t been paid notice pay

You should explain:

  • how much notice you were given and what you were paid for it

  • how much notice you think you should have had and what you should have been paid 

If you know why your employer didn’t give notice, or didn’t pay it in full, explain why you disagree with them.

You can check what your notice period should be if you’ve been dismissed.

Example

My contract says I’m entitled to 2 months’ notice if I’m dismissed. My employer said they didn’t have to give me notice because they were sacking me for gross misconduct. I think I should have got notice because I wasn’t responsible for the theft they accused me of. I earn £2,200 a month so my notice pay would have been £4,400.

If you’re claiming unfair dismissal 

Whatever the reason for your dismissal, your employer has to follow a procedure. You should say:

You should write everything in the order it happened and give dates. 

If you’ve been dismissed, you should ask your employer for written reasons for your dismissal. If you didn’t get any, or the reasons your employer gave weren’t good, you should also say so. If you asked but your employer didn’t reply within 14 days of your request, you should say so too. 

If you know, you should also describe your employer's business and how big they are. This is because a large employer has less excuse for treating employees badly.

You’ll also need to explain why you think it was unfair to dismiss you. You can check whether your dismissal was unfair

If you were sacked for misconduct, your dismissal might be unfair if:

  • your employer didn’t have evidence to show you did something wrong 

  • your employer didn’t carry out a good enough investigation to find out what happened - you can find out more about what investigating they should do 

  • you weren’t allowed to see the evidence against you or explain your side of the story

  • the misconduct you were accused of wasn’t serious enough to justify dismissing you

If you were dismissed because your employer said you weren’t doing your job well enough but had a good work record, you should say so. Also mention any positive appraisals you had.

The following example shows how this section was completed for someone who’s been dismissed for misconduct. In a real case, it would also include details of disciplinary meetings they went to. 

Example

I worked as a security guard for a company that provided security to a supermarket.  

I was sacked because my employer said I’d put in timesheets showing I’d worked more hours than I really had.  

They said the supermarket had complained but wouldn’t show me a copy of their complaint.

I denied this and said I’d worked the hours and they could check by getting the CCTV from the supermarket or talk to my neighbour, who’d seen me in the store on the day. My employer refused to do this.  

I think my dismissal was unfair because they didn’t carry out a full investigation or have evidence that I was guilty. They also didn’t allow me to comment properly on the evidence.  

If you’re claiming discrimination

You should describe the type of discrimination you’re complaining about. You can find out more about the different types of discrimination. You must include a full description of the events including dates, times, places and who was involved.

If you’re claiming more than one type of discrimination, you need to give separate details for each claim of discrimination. 

You should also say why you think you were discriminated against. 

If someone said discriminatory things to you, say what they said. If you can, use the actual words they used. If you can’t remember the exact words, say ‘words to the effect of …’

If you’re pregnant and your employer started criticising your work after you told them, you should say so. For example if you’d always had good appraisals but then your employer started criticising your work after they knew of your pregnancy. 

If you need help filling in this part of the form, talk to an adviser

If you’re claiming a redundancy payment

You need to say if you’ve applied to the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) for payment. 

Question 9 - what do you want if your claim is successful?

You don’t have to complete this section but it’s helpful to work out what you want and what you can get from an employment tribunal. You can check what you can get from an employment tribunal

If you got a new job but it’s only temporary, you can add that in this section. If you win, the tribunal will take account of this when deciding how much compensation you should get. 

Question 11 - your representative

If you have a representative, you should give their details. All correspondence will be sent to them instead and they’ll have to pass it on to you. 

If you don’t have a representative, the employment judge will try to help you but they won’t be able to help you much otherwise your employer could argue they’re not judging the case fairly. 

Question 15 - additional information

Say if you need any extra help - for example, because you have a disability. The tribunal can make changes to help you. For example, if you’re deaf you can ask for a sign-language interpreter for hearings. If English isn’t your first language, say if you need an interpreter. 

If you’re pregnant, you might want to tell the tribunal the date you’re expecting your baby so they don’t hold your hearing around that date. 

You might also want to tell the tribunal dates when you’re away on holiday or have hospital treatment booked.

You can say here if you have any doubts about the true identity of their employer and if the name you’ve given for the respondent is exactly right. 

You might also want to tell the tribunal you couldn’t make exact calculations because you don’t have certain information, like wage slips.

If you’ve been dismissed and got a temporary job, you could also say here how long you expect that job to last. 

Don’t use this section to talk about how badly your employer treated you. You only need to give the facts of what happened.

Before you send the form

Check you’ve answered all the questions marked with a *. If you don’t, the tribunal will reject your claim. 

If you’re sending the form by post, make sure you keep a copy of the form before sending it off. If you’re completing the form online, you can save and print it. 

Sending your ET1 claim form

You’re responsible for sending your form to the employment tribunal unless an adviser or representative said they’ll send it for you.

Try to send the form as soon as you can rather than just before the deadline. Many employees find they can’t bring their case because they left it too late.

If you send the ET1 form online

You should see a confirmation message as soon as you send the form.

You should also get a ‘notice of acknowledgment’ in the post to say the employment tribunal has received your claim form.

If you send the ET1 form by post

You should send your completed form to:

Employment Tribunal
Customer Contact Centre
England and Wales
PO Box 10218
Leicester
LE1 8EG

If you send the form by post and it’s delivered after the deadline it will count as late, even if you sent it before the deadline.

Make sure you get proof of postage - if your form arrives late and it’s not your fault you can show you sent it in plenty of time.  

You should check the tribunal has received your form. Make sure you check before the time limit runs out, so you can send it again if you need to. 

You should get a ‘notice of acknowledgment’ in the post to say the employment tribunal has received your claim form.

After you’ve sent your form

The employment tribunal will copy your ET1 claim form and send it to your employer to see if they want to respond or defend themselves. 

Your employer’s response is called the ‘ET3’ and they’re called the ‘respondent’ from now on. Your employer has 28 days to reply to the tribunal but they can ask for more time. The tribunal should send you a copy of the ET3. 

You can find out more about your employer's response to an employment tribunal claim

If you want to amend your claim form after you’ve sent it

You should write to the tribunal to ask them to amend the form. The tribunal will usually accept the changes if they’re small - like correcting the spelling of a name. 

If the changes are bigger, you should ask for them as soon as possible - for example, if you want to add a claim of unfair dismissal to one for redundancy pay. The sooner you ask the more likely it is the tribunal will allow the changes. 

If you want to make changes very close to the date of a hearing, you should try to get your employer to agree to the changes. If the hearing has to be delayed, you might have to pay costs. You can find out more about costs in employment tribunal cases.

If you want to add respondents, you might need to get an early conciliation certificate for them first.

If your claim is still within time limits, you don’t need the tribunal's permission to change it or add a new one. For example, if you made an unfair dismissal claim, then find new evidence suggesting there was also discrimination, you should complete a new claim. You can then ask for the new claim to be consolidated with the first one. If you want to add another claim, you can raise the issue as a grievance first if you’re an employee and you can do so within the time limit.

If the time limit for submitting your claim has expired, you need the permission of the tribunal to amend your claim. 

If you’re adding another claim, the tribunal might hold a hearing called a ‘preliminary hearing’ to decide whether to allow the claim. You can find out more about preliminary hearings

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